The Tidal Zone

Sarah Moss

Published: 20 April 2017
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 336 pages
ISBN: 9781783783083

Other Editions

Trade Paperback

Image of

Published: 7 July 2016
Trade Paperback, Demy PB
135x216mm, 336 pages
ISBN: 9781783783076

Ebook Available


Adam is a stay-at-home dad who is also working on a history of the bombing and rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral. He is a good man and he is happy. But one day, he receives a call from his daughter's school to inform him that, for no apparent reason, fifteen-year-old Miriam has collapsed and stopped breathing. In that moment, he is plunged into a world of waiting, agonising, not knowing. The story of his life and the lives of his family are rewritten and re-told around this shocking central event, around a body that has inexplicably failed.

In this exceptionally courageous and unflinching novel of contemporary life Sarah Moss goes where most of us wouldn't dare to look, and the result is riveting - unbearably sad, but also miraculously funny and ultimately hopeful. The Tidal Zone explores parental love, overwhelming fear, illness and recovery. It is about clever teenagers and the challenges of marriage. It is about the NHS, academia, sex and gender in the twenty-first century, the work-life juggle, and the politics of packing lunches and loading dishwashers. It confirms Sarah Moss as a unique voice in modern fiction and a writer of luminous intelligence.

About the author

Image of Sarah Moss

Sarah Moss was educated at Oxford University and is currently an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Warwick. She is the author of four novels: Cold Earth, Night Waking, which was selected for the Fiction Uncovered Award in 2011, Bodies of Light and Signs for Lost Children; and the co-author of Chocolate: A Global History. She spent 2009-10 as a visiting lecturer at the University of Reykjavik, and wrote an account of her time there in Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland (Granta 2012), which was shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2013. Her novel The Tidal Zone will be published by Granta in summer 2016. More about the author


The Tidal Zone has an astounding way of looking at a potential tragedy within one household and simultaneously shows how it is situated in the expansive tapestry of human experience. She does this writing in a way which is poetic, profound and filled with wry humour, but it's also a story firmly grounded in the small details of real life... The Tidal Zone magnificently captures the real grit and poignancy of daily life while framing it within a bigger picture. It's an emotionally affecting read with realistic and relatable characters that will keep you gripped worrying what will happen to them.’ Eric Anderson



The Tidal Zone is a remarkable, passionate, funny and beautifully furious book, full of love, history, justice and tenderness. I recommend it to any reader with a heart, or a head’ AL Kennedy

The Tidal Zone is rich in texture and detail, and Moss expands her narrative even further, folding in the story of Adam's father [which] adds a new dimension [...] introducing a way of living that relinquishes class systems, money, institutions and ideologies... Moss' language is unflinching and she convincingly captures Adam's inner life’ Cassie Davies

‘A big-hitter about every parent's worst fear, which in the hands of Moss doesn't become sensationalist or clichéd’

‘A breathtaking book that intertwines the sudden drama of catastrophe with the ongoing rhythms of domestic life. I haven't read anything that better nails the love and fear of parenting and the complexities of marriage with children’ Cathy Rentzenbrink, 'The most addictive new reads of July'

‘A clever, well-constructed, moving, funny and very well-written novel, rooted in domestic reality but able to take on the big themes of mortality and the fragility and preciousness of life. Excellent’ Harry Ritchie

‘A sophisticated state-of-the-nation novel [that] delivers a powerful account of private fears in the face of public expectations and modern parenthood confronting gender politics... Animated by wry intelligence yet comparable to a Dutch painting of a domestic interior in its evocation of turmoil beneath stillness, Sarah Moss's fifth novel reprises her exploration of mortal and moral paradoxes... Bristling with contemporary teenage attitude, this coming-of-age story is about grown-ups, for grown-ups.’ Caroline Jackson

‘An astute storyteller [...] Moss taps into a range of experiences that you do not need to be a parent to feel and tackles this extremely uncomfortable subject with tact, plausibility and flowing prose.’ Natalie Bowen

‘Brilliant... [Moss] absolutely captures [...] the big dramatic action but also wonderfully pins the small currents and rhythms of domestic life... A rich and complex novel, very layered but also a fast, speedy and tense read... Literally breathtaking, [...] I had to remind myself to breathe again... [Moss] is such a good writer... all of the great questions of life and death are here’ Cathy Rentzenbrink

‘Brilliant... it examines the mundane and routing, questioning the futility of daily rituals that we hold dear. It's everyday magic’

‘I devoured this... it's definitely going to be one of my favourite books of the year... Profoundly moving, relevant and important’ Jen Campbell

‘If you enjoy Sarah Moss' writing then I think you will love this one... to my mind her best novel to date and if you haven't discovered her then you have treats in story... Sarah Moss traverses the territory with assurance and confidence. With each book I sense an author getting better and better... Having already made the Wellcome Book Prize shortlist twice, [Moss] must surely make it for a third time with The Tidal Zone and surely other accolades will follow’ Lynne Hatwell

‘In her first four novels to date Moss has proved to be a versatile writer... [The Tidal Zone] is different again, a contemporary story about a family whose ordinary lives are tipped into freefall when eldest daughter Miriam collapses one day at school. Granta is tipping this as her breakout novel and I do hope so - she deserves to be so much better known’

‘Moss writes soulful, ambitious prose, which takes note of the familiar and mundane, but mostly dwells on a bigger, deeper picture. The nature of familial love, the grip of fear imposed by a seriously ill child, the guilt of yearning for escape; all are examined with intelligence and emotional charge’ Jane Graham

‘Moss's new novel begins with a couple of extraordinary pages describing three incidents in which a young girl's heart stopped... Moss is one of our most fearless novelists [who] underline[s] how precarious and illusory our cosy lives are’ Claire Allfree

‘Sarah Moss [is] a writer of consistently clever works. She's one of Britain's most underrated writers... One of the things Moss does so well in her novels is to play with your expectations. Here she shakes up the traditional mother-father roles.’ Fiona Wilson

‘Sarah Moss is a writer of exceptional gifts, who can combine the profound and the prosaic, the contemporary and the historic, in a compelling narrative. She writes better than anyone I know about the way we live now, about our fears and obsessions and dreams, about mortality and parenthood and just keeping going from day to day. I love her work, and I loved this book. She gives us so much. She writes very freely and fearlessly, making up her own rules as she goes. She is also very funny’ Margaret Drabble

‘Sarah Moss is an absolutely terrific writer... [A] richly detailed and beautifully observed novel [with] all the pace and excitement of a thriller.’ Cresside Connolly

‘Sarah Moss is an impressively flexible writer... The Tidal Zone may be something of a pioneer as a novel... A novel for our times... An intensely contemporary novel, with swingeing criticisms of this country today... An excellent read’ Penelope Lively

‘Sarah Moss presents a beautifully crafted portrayal of liberal middle-class family life [to] explor[e] themes of parental love, fear of loss, the challenges of marriage, the work-life juggle, recovery and more... It captures things you know must be true but had perhaps never thought of... Gripping’ Jane Blackman

‘Sarah Moss's great gift is as a first-rate depicter of human emotions. Her character live and breathe in the way that readers need characters to do: as compassionate, sympathetic and recognisable individuals we can connect with utterly, as people struggling to cope with the realities of life... This is grown-up writing for grown-up readers, the kind of story that makes you think about your own life choices and close relationships. Few novels do that with such depth and clarity as Moss's has done so here’ Lesley McDowell

‘Within two pages you know that this is a writer who has such talent, such ability... The writing style is perfect. It's amazing’ Mercedes Mills

Mind Unit - websites, content management and email marketing for the arts